A noise in the next room woke Christine from her deep sleep. She sat up in bed and peered into the darkness.
"Meg? Meg is that you?" She asked. A light from the opposite room clicked on and Meg appeared in the doorway, fully dressed.
"I'm so sorry Christine, did I wake you up?" She whispered, as she fastened one of her earrings into place. Christine frowned as she slipped from her bed.
"What in the world are you doing? Go back to sleep." She said, turning on the light next to her bed. Meg leaned into the room and grabbed a jacket from the counter top.
"I'm going out." She said simply, walking fully into Christine's room.
"Meg, are you sure that your mother would approve of you traipsing around Manhattan at this time of night?" Christine asked sleepily, pulling on her robe.
She rolled her eyes as she shrugged on the little black jacket that she held.
"Christine, it's only midnight. It's not that late, and I probably know these streets better than you do. And I'm from Paris!" She scoffed, as Christine crossed her arms over her chest.
"Well you can't say I didn't offer my best advice, which was to go back to bed." She said softly, but firmly. Meg shook her head as she slipped her purse over her shoulder.
"Please Christine. It's really alright. I called up a few party goers that I usually spend time with on my trips to New York, and they are meeting me at the front of your apartment building. If you are really feeling like that much of a mom, you can watch me from the window." Meg said, slipping into the living room.
Christine followed her and they quietly approached the door. Meg unlocked it and slipped into the hallway. She turned and patted the key the key in her pocket.
"Don't worry Christine. I do this all the time." She said with a wink, and then she was gone. Christine shook her head.
"Well be careful." She called down the dark hallway. The only response she received was the tip-tap of Meg's shoes heading down the hall. Christine turned and bolted the door back and leaned against it. She felt bad for mothering Meg, she had only known the girl for a short time, but she really valued her friendship. Sometimes Christine wondered if the girl really used her head at all.
"Why am I always the responsible one?" She whispered outloud. A soft chuckle answered her. She looked up to see Erik leaning against the doorframe from the guest bedroom.
"You're only the responsible one because you wish to be." He answered for her, as he walked towards her. Christine shivered as she watched his form move slowly through the moonlit room.
"I hope my talking didn't wake you." She whispered, staring at him. He was like a cat, and when night fell...she became that frightened girl once again, watching and waiting for him to make his move. His smile warmed her body, as did his arms as they enveloped her small form and drew her close to him. She laid her head against his chest, grateful that he was back in her arms once more. He placed a feather light kiss on top of her head and breathed in the scent of her hair
"I was awake my dear. Your girlish conversations are what drew me from my bedroom, but did not wake me." He answered, tucking a fallen curl behind her ear. He released her from his arms, and looked down into her eyes.
"Are you tired ma petite?" He asked softly, the french accent rolling off of his tongue like velvet. She shivered at the sound of his voice, but nodded her head.
"I am tired, but I highly doubt I'll be able to go back to sleep. I don't sleep well once I am woken up." She said softly. Erik chuckled.
"Then we shall have to scold Meg for being so loud in her exit." He responded. He grasped her small hand in his and led her away from the small foyer.
"I know something that might remedy that insomnia you're suffering from." He offered as he walked into his bedroom. She smiled up at him, and yawned.
"What do you have in mind?" She asked. Erik leaned down and unlatched the clasp of the travel bag he had brought with him from France. He put his hand inside and came out with a small bottle filled with a purplish substance. He stood and held the bottle out where she could see.
"A jasmine bath might do the trick, and I happen to have brought some jasmine from Paris." He said. Christine felt something stir in her belly, but ignored the feeling for the time being. A bath sounded positively wonderful, the jasmine would be the icing on the cake. Christine nodded her consent and Erik led her back to her own bedroom.
Christine sat on the bed while Erik ran her bath for her. Staring out into the night, she had a million things on her mind. Was Meg alright? She had not watched her leave the building like she should have. Would she be home before dawn? And then there was Erik. Oh Erik. He was such a blessing, but so down right aggravating. She never dreamed that something would have become of the bond the two shared for music and performing. Was it too good to be true? Would it last? She shook away the thoughts of the most pressing matter in her world at the time. Filling her head with thoughts of the trial would never allow her to rest.
She was shaken from her quiet reverie by the touch of Erik's lips on her temple. She looked up into his dark, but loving eyes as he held out his hand for her to grasp. She took it and he pulled her from her spot on the bed and into the bathroom.
Christine breathed in the scent of jasmine and sighed as she looked at the inviting bath before her. Erik pressed his lips to the little place behind her ear and kissed it gently.
"I'll allow you a bit of privacy Mademoiselle." He whispered, slipping from the bathroom and shutting the door behind him. Christine smiled at the closed door, making a silent prayer of thanks that this man was in her life. She slipped off her fluffy robe and the rest of her garments and slipped into the steamy bath.
She gave a sigh of contentment as she sank back against the lip of the tub, allowing her body to relax. Erik really did think of everything. A few moments later Christine saw a candle flicker in the mirrored wall. She looked up at the reflection as saw Erik re-enter the dark room, his long body filling the doorway as he sat the candle down on the counter top. He turned his eyes to Christine, eyeing her with gentle awareness. Christine shyly pulled her knees up to her chest when she realized that Erik was looking at her. He shook his head as he strode to the tub and knelt next to it. He offered Christine a small smile.
"We shared love with one another mere nights ago, and you're still hiding from me. Oh, ma petite how sweet you are." He whispered, leaning in to give her a light kiss on the cheek. Christine shivered at the simple touch on her face and turned her face away, looking at the water swirling around her. She heard Erik chuckle and then shift around behind her. She looked over her shoulder at him as he draped a towel across his legs.
"What are you doing?" She asked. Erik clicked his tongue at her.
"Ah, this is part of the therapy. Relax ma petite." He said softly in her ear. Christine nodded and turned back around, and slid her knees back down into the warm water. A blush burned her cheeks as she heard his silky laughter in her ear, but did her best to ignore it. He had seen her naked before, why was it any different now? Something told her that it would always be different with Erik, no matter how many times they may be together that way.
"Lean your head forward." He said. Christine complied and felt warm water splash down on her head, drenching her hair and face. It felt nice, and the action was repeated several times.
"Lean back against the tub again." Christine slid back to her original position and smelled the jasmine strongly behind her. She sighed as Erik's hands gently snaked their way into her hair, massaging the shampoo he held into her scalp.
"You're washing my hair for me." She said with a smile. Erik chuckled.
"My pleasure." He said, leaning forward and kissing her earlobe.
Christine shivered and looked back at him. His eyes were downcast at her shoulder, but she could see his beautiful eyes through his heavy black lashes. They were filled with darkness and desire. They flicked back up to hers again and he urged her to turn back around. He poured water over her head and rinsed the shampoo from her dark curls. He ran his fingers through them to untangle the dark mass and allowed his fingers to drift down her back. She turned around in the tub and faced him. Erik's eyes searched hers for a moment, wide with surprise and intrigue. She stared back for a second, unsure of what she was attempting to do. On instinct she leaned forward over the lip of the tub and pressed her lips to his. He moaned into her mouth and slid his hands down her slick skin, settling on her shoulder blades. Christine broke the kiss to look back into his heated gaze.
"I need you." She whispered, searching his eyes.
Erik's eyes darkened and he rose from the floor to his feet. He held his hands out to her and Christine took them, standing before him. He drank in the sight of her naked body once more and Christine shivered under his heavy gaze.
"What do you want Christine? Tell me what you need from me." He asked, tracing her cheek with his index finger. She kissed the tips of his fingers and pulled his hand flush to her face, cradling against her cheek.
"Love me." Erik dropped his face to hers and kissed her deeply.
His tongue slid along her lips, testing her. She accepted him into her mouth and the kiss grew into a wildfire. Her hands tangled in his hair and slid down to either side of his face. She felt the cold porcelain of his mask as she kissed him. She drew back from him and brought her hands to the hem of his shirt. Erik smirked at her as she pulled the fabric up and over his torso, tossing it onto the floor.
"My angel has grown into a demon, has she not?" He joked, as he stepped out of his pants. Christine allowed her hands to travel over his bare chest and she cuddled against him.
"There's nothing demonic about the way that I want you." She whispered.
Erik's comical smile turned into that of sincerity. He stroked her hair and wrapped his arms around her petite body. Christine leaned backward and Erik looked down at his feet as she pulled him over the edge and into the tub. She pressed down on his shoulders and Erik slid down against the lip, coming to rest at the bottom of the tub. Christine slid down on her knees between Erik's legs. She leaned forward and placed a light kiss on his perfect cheek and then on his porcelain duplicate. She cupped his face and searched his eyes, afraid to speak.
"I want to see you." She felt Erik tremble beneath her as he turned his face away.
"Please do not ask that of me Christine. I do not know if I can give it." He said softly. She turned his face back to her.
"Erik, let me love the man behind the mask. I want to see you, not the shell of a man you hide inside."
Erik's eyes searched hers frantically and then dropped to the water. He reached up and gently pulled the porcelain from his face, placing it carefully on the side of the tub. He sat there waiting, ashamed but steady. Christine studied his deformed flesh with loving eyes. It brought tears to her eyes to think about what horrors he must have suffered throughout his life. She pitied him for his hardship, and admired him for his strength. She traced the hardened tissue with her fingertips and kissed his lips gently. Erik looked up into her eyes, and she saw something in his that she never thought she would see.
Fear. A tear slipped down her cheek as she gathered Erik close to her body. Erik shuddered against her and wept openly at her act of kindness and understanding.
"Were you in an accident?" She asked as she stroked the back of his head. He shifted his face from her shoulder and laid a soft kiss on her skin.
"I was born this way." He answered pulling away from her. He took her hands into his own and planted a soft kiss on her knuckles. "I don't understand why I feel this way, but I truly care for you Christine. You are like nothing I have ever seen before." He said. She smiled at him and squeezed his hands.
"I am so sorry." She whispered. Erik shook his head.
"No, do not be sorry. I don't want you to feel pity for me." He said bitterly, looking away from her. Christine caught his face in her hands.
"No, I didn't mean that. I'm sorry that I didn't understand when I left Paris." Erik's looked down at the water.
"You did not know. Do not think on it. I apologize for not understanding you either." He said softly. She wrapped her arms around his neck.
"I love you Erik. I know that I may be a impossible, a child even, but I love you so much." She declared, hugging him fiercly. He did not say a word, but she felt the way his heart quickened it's pace, and that's all the answer she needed.
From the bedroom, Christine heard the phone begin to ring. She stumbled out of the tub and grabbed a towel off of the wall. Wrapping it around her body, she darted from the room and into her bedroom. She snatched the table off of the night stand and answered with a quick "Hello?"
Soft, sneaky laughter came from the opposite end.
"Hello Christine." Christine's eyes narrowed and she looked at Erik as he stepped from the bathroom.
"Who is this?" She asked. The voice chuckled again, and she felt a feeling crawl up her spine. Something was very very wrong.
"I would think you would recognize me. I've been all over the papers this week my sweet." Christine whirled around in horror.
"Alex?" She whispered breathlessly.
"That's a good girl." Erik placed a hand on her arm, alarm written all over his demasked face.
"How did you, how...how did you have this number? Better yet, how did you find a way to contact me?" She asked, looking at the caller id. It was an unknown phone number, but she could not see well enough in the darkness to read the name on the screen.
"You should know me well enough Christine, to know that I have my ways through anything. I'm not finished yet my love." He cackled through the phone. Christine's mind flew a thousand miles a second, trying to fathom what evil deed he may have done to get in touch with her.
"Speechless? Well let's just say...the police in this great state of New York know nothing about securing a prisoner transfer." He said darkly. Christine's eyes widened.
"You...you broke out didn't you?" She asked, yet she knew it was a pointless question.
"You don't give me enough credit baby. I'm only doing this for you." Christine shook her head furiously.
"I'm calling the police Alex." She cried into the phone.
"Not if you value that little dancer girl you've been spending time with." Her heart stopped dead in her chest.
"What have you done with her?" He laughed again.
"Oh she is perfectly fine. Needless to say, she shouldn't go out on the street unattended. She might run into some bad people. And you...should watch your back better. You never know when someone may be watching you. I've got friends all over this city and you know it." He cackled.
"Leave her alone Alex. What ever you've done with her, you better let her go." She sobbed into the phone.
"Don't threaten me Miss Davenport. You know what I'm capable of. For now, Ms. Giry is fine. But you watch your step. And if you go to the police...don't expect to see her again. I'll be in touch beautiful." With that the phone clicked off.
TBC. MOO HA HA